Last week, we were in Fukuoka, Japan, for Mazda's ASEAN media forum where company officials discussed the brand's current regional sales and service strategy, as well as its game plan moving forward.
During the forum, Mazda executive officer of emerging markets Hiroshi Inoue talked about the company's relatively small size and premium identity, opting to focus on producing outstanding Jinba ittai-centered products and providing an unparalleled customer experience instead of coming out with mass-market cars like many of its competitors do.
It's a formula that Mazda is sticking to for three main reasons:
* Developing a platform for cheaper cars is costly;
* The difference between the two types of emerging markets (those who'll opt for low-cost cars and the customers the company is currently targeting) is not that big--1.9 billion people versus 1.5 billion; and
* It works. In fact, according to the latest J.D. Power Philippine customer service index, Mazda now leads all carmakers in terms of overall customer satisfaction.
What's more, the company's ASEAN sales figures are bearing the fruits of its emphasis on craftsmanship and service. Regional sales surged upward in 2015 to over 100,000 units compared to less than 80,000 the year before. Dozens of new dealerships have been put up across the region in the same time frame as well.
Yes, those numbers pale in comparison to those of carmakers producing more affordable vehicles. But again, for Mazda, it's about quality and not quantity. Inoue said that attempting to come up with cheaper cars would eat into resources being used to continue the development of its current offerings.
By 2018, the company hopes to break the 150,000-unit sales mark in the region, and increase its ASEAN markets' global sales contribution to 9.1% from 6.2% in 2015. If achieved, the milestone would be the perfect buildup to Mazda's 100th founding anniversary in 2020. Taking into consideration the brand's increasing desirability, newly formed pickup development partnership with Isuzu, and the upcoming arrival of the CX-3 and the all-new CX-9, we think the odds are in its favor.